Believe it or not, America’s second largest canyon is in the Texas Panhandle. Palo Duro Canyon is a favorite destination for this Texas girl; and my trip this year was super special as we made the trek to the park’s most popular landmark, the Lighthouse.
The Lighthouse Trail at Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a 5.7 mile round trip hike that takes you to a beautiful rock formation known as The Lighthouse. Along the trail you have great views of many of the canyon’s wonders. We saw wild turkeys, deer, a horned frog, a variety of birds, and lots of wildflowers and cacti. Of course, the canyon walls and formations are the highlight of the trip. I love the Spanish Skirts – the parts of the canyon that resemble a Spanish dancer’s full skirt. Depending on how the sun hits them you can see colors of bronze, lavender, white, and peach. The hike is considered a moderate one and great for all ages. Taking LOTS of water on this hike is of utmost importance, however, as the Texas heat can sneak up on you.
Palo Duro Canyon is also home to the famed outdoor musical, TEXAS! The setting is perfect, nestled in the canyon under the stars, and canyon evenings are usually always pleasant. The musical tells the history of the canyon, the panhandle and its people. The show runs every summer and has been going on for over 50 years. You will be entertained (some fun surprises) and leave with a feeling of Texas pride, no doubt!
After my first trip many years ago, I was intrigued by the size of the canyon and the fact that it is truly a surprise when traveling through the flat lands of the Panhandle. If you want to explore another area of the canyon, try taking Texas 207 south from Claude, Texas, which is on US 287. This scenic drive (not within the state park) is a must if you’re in the area. Many of the locals will say it has the best views of the canyon. It will truly take your breath away as you are traveling along flat land and then, all of a sudden, the earth just opens up. I just love it!
In this part of our state that holds wide open spaces, big skies, and friendly people, you will be charmed by Palo Duro Canyon and the nearby cities of Canyon and Amarillo. So many folks pass it by on their way to New Mexico and Colorado, but this area deserves a vacation of its own. A favorite for families, it’s well worth the time to research the area, kick off your boots, and stay a while.